Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Shenna Bellows today questioned why her opponent, Republican Susan Collins, won’t offer policy or issue-based information on her campaign website and why much of the policy data on her congressional site is missing or years out of date. Highlights are included below, and current screenshots of Collins’ site are available here.
While Bellows prominently features an “Issues” tab on her front page that includes Bellows/Collins comparisons on important issues, Collins’ campaign site has no “Issues” section, either on the front page or elsewhere. Of the material available under “Latest News,” there are no posts about a position Collins has taken or the reason she cast a vote. There is no mention of her votes against the Paycheck Fairness Act, campaign finance reform, increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour or any other issues before the Senate this year in which she was out of step with public opinion.
Collins has good reason to avoid explaining her votes.
– Despite a recent CBS poll showing 71 percent support for campaign spending limits, Collins voted on Sept. 11 with Washington Republicans against the Udall Amendment that would have overturned the Citizens United ruling and allowed common sense regulation of campaign spending. Shenna supports the Udall Amendment and held a press conference about it after the vote.
– Despite 63 percent of Mainers supporting a minimum wage of at least $10 an hour, according to a July poll by the Maine People’s Resource Center, Susan Collins voted with Washington Republicans to block a $10.10 minimum wage in April. Shenna supports the increase.
– A February national survey found that 60 percent of voters are more likely to back a candidate who supports fair pay for women, a higher minimum wage, paid family and medical leave and paid sick days. Instead of listening to what the people want, Susan Collins voted with Washington Republicans against the Paycheck Fairness Act twice this year. Her spokesman, Lance Dutson, called the Paycheck Fairness Act a “bureaucratic monstrosity.”
Although Collins’ campaign site does not outline or explain her positions, multiple “Latest News” posts talk about the millions of dollars her campaign has raised. In describing her fundraising, they say nothing about her multiple votes against the pro-transparency DISCLOSE Act over the years — including her vote to filibuster the bill in 2010, when it failed cloture by a single vote — and her vote this year to block Sen. Tom Udall’s campaign finance reform proposal known as SJ Res. 19.
Even as her campaign site offers no policy information, Collins’ Senate website policy pages contain badly out-of-date material and are full of gaps.
“There’s no excuse for an elected official to offer years-old answers, or no answers at all, to constituents looking for leadership on the issues they care about,” said Abigail Collazo, Bellows’ deputy campaign manager. “Keeping constituents informed and sharing timely information is one of the basic jobs of a senator. Susan Collins’ colleagues make sure people know how they’ve voted, what they’ve done and why. As both a candidate and a legislator, she has chosen to keep Mainers in the dark. Voters know where Shenna Bellows stands, and they know she’ll always tell them why she believes what she believes. Unfortunately, it’s a big difference between the candidates in this race.”
SUSAN COLLINS ISSUE PAGES HIGHLIGHTS
Lack of Information on Current Issues
A search for “Keystone” as a way to learn about Collins’ support for the Keystone XL pipeline gets zero returns. Anyone searching for “paycheck” to learn more about her continued opposition to the Paycheck Fairness Act will get results dating from 2012 backward. Collins did not put out a press release after her April 9 or Sept. 15 votes this year to block the bill. None of her permanent pages under “Issues,” including “Healthcare and Senior Issues,” contain any information on Social Security. Although she cosponsors Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act and replace it with nothing, neither “Cruz” nor “repeal” appears anywhere on her “Healthcare and Senior Issues” page.
Her “Economic Development” Page
Collins’ “Economic Development” page says that Collins has offered several important bills in the past year, including the “7-Point Plan for Growing Jobs Act,” the “Clearing Unnecessary Regulatory Burdens Act” or “CURB Act,” the “Regulatory ‘Time-Out’ Act,” and the bipartisan “Jobs Creation Act,” which she coauthored with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The page explains that the bills, among other features, “Extend the employee-side of the social security [sic] payroll tax at 4.2 percent through 2012.”
A search at Congress.gov shows the most recent Senate action on the “Seven Point Plan for Growing Jobs Act” was the bill’s referral to the Committee on Finance on Feb. 16, 2011. The most recent action on the “Regulatory Time Out Act” was the bill’s referral to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Sept. 12, 2011. A “Jobs Creation Act” cosponsored by Sen. McCaskill was referred to the Committee on Finance on Dec. 7, 2011. Sen. Collins has not introduced the bills under those titles in the 113th Congress.
Her “Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs” Page
Collins’ “Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs” page is similarly uninformative and out of date. The “Strengthening cybersecurity” heading only touts her introduction “with Senator Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) [of] legislation to protect the U.S. from a cyber attack.” Collins has not been a member of the Homeland Security Committee since the 112th Congress, and Lieberman is no longer in office. The page references several other out-of-date bills and efforts.
Her “Education” Page
Of the mere three sentences devoted to Head Start under “Education,” one reads, “Senator Collins has always supported Head Start and has spoken out against proposed cuts that would devastate these important programs.” It is unclear whether that material was written before or after Collins’ 2011 vote for HR1, a funding proposal the National Head Start Association said at the time “would have cut more than 218,000 children from Head Start and eliminate[d] 55,000 jobs.”